The True Story of John Quincy Adam’s Pet Alligator

Quincy’s pet alligator has been a topic surrounded by a lot of speculation that it eventually begins to sound and feel like a myth. John Quincy Adams however, was no myth. He was the United States President from 1825 to 1829 for four years and did not get elected for a second term and the only president to have lost major votes and still won the election.

According to, the alligator was given to him by Marquis de Lafayette. Marquis de Lafayette was a French general who played an important part during the Revolutionary War. He helped the colonists against the British. He volunteered his time and money to help the Americans. He was able to help the Americans win the war and was treated as a hero.

During his many travels, he was gifted many things both practical, conventional and unconventional. Most sources record that an alligator was one of such unconventional gifts. He in return gave the alligator to President John Quincy Adams.

The president then adopted the alligator as a pet. It is believed that he stored the alligator in the east room bathtub of the White House. He used it to terrify guests for about two months before finally giving it away. The stories sound both funny and scary with just the right amount of everything that is considered too good or too hilarious to be true and maybe it was.

Although the story is  highly circulated they have been no evidence to back it up. But amidst all the unfounded storied and non-collaborating fun facts, here are some facts about the cloudy pet alligator story.

If you went to see the president and was instead scared by an alligator in the bathtub, it is assumable that you would at one point or the other speak up about it.

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So, therefore, if there was such an occurrence at the White House, one of the victims of the president’s prank who recovered would have mentioned it later in some sort of paper or social media. They would have spoken out in anger or condemnation about how childish and immature the prank was if they were still hurt or embarrassed.

Or they would have laughed about it if they had later found it funny and hilarious. But so far there is no record of anyone coming forward as a victim of the alligator prank.

John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States of America and Lafayette was a revolutionary war hero. So there is the question of where the alligator came from and according to the website, the only written record they came across was The White House and Its 33 Families by Amy La Follette Jensen. Contrary to what most Internet sources claims, the book recorded that General Lafayette was staying in the white house for about two months and had a pet alligator with him that scared most guest. It also records that both the alligator among other things he gives he got while traveling were stored in the east room of the white house.

Due to the lack of any concrete evidence that the sixth president of the United States ever had an alligator, although it’s not impossible, it’s highly unlikely that the pet alligator story was true.

However, there’s a chance that maybe the general Lafayette mentioned giving the president an alligator gift and he might have made a joke about how funny it would be to keep it to prank people.

As the saying goes, behind every myth is a story about something that happened to inspire it.